Published Sep 09, 2008As far as depressing hyperrealist Austrian films go, Revanche is neither as nihilistic nor misanthropic as the works of Ulrich Seidl, or as analytical and directly confrontational as something from the Haneke oeuvre. It demonstrates a preoccupation with the darker side of humanity in its creation of a world filled with prostitution, brothels, drug usage and rampant violence.
But living within that world are well intentioned and compassionate, if completely damaged and ruined, people who seem to care about each other regardless of an inability to connect. Strange optimism and beauty seem to exist within the setting of Revanche, regardless of how cold the world around it appears to be.
Acting as kind of a reverse Bounce, if Gwyneth intended to kill Ben Affleck and have angry sex with Jennifer Grey and Natasha Henstridge, Revanche follows Tamara (Irina Potapenko), a Ukrainian immigrant, as she copes with routine violence and degrading sex acts while working in a Vienna Brothel and secretly dates a co-worker named Alex (Johannes Krisch).
Wanting more for him and Tamara, Alex (Johannes Krisch) devises a plan to rob a bank, which inevitably backfires when Robert (Andreas Lust), a police officer, discovers Tamara and Alex in the getaway car. Coincidentally, Roberts wife Susanne (Ursula Strauss) has been regularly visiting Alexs aged father for some time, which inevitably leads to their meeting and the development of a peculiar relationship.
Explorations of loneliness and the nature of happenstance are palliated by a surprisingly cohesive narrative that features realistic and often unnerving character interactions, as well as some performances that are nothing short of impressive. Much is asked of these actors, given that their characters are often unflattering, weak and entirely human, but earnestly they each step up to the challenge.
What starts out as a slightly off-putting investigation of human indelicacy becomes a galvanizing psychological thriller worthy of repeat viewings. (Prisma)